CEXS-UPF: Scientists uncover a case of malpractice in biomedical research

CEXS-UPF: Scientists uncover a case of malpractice in biomedical research

News from CEXS-UPF

Lucas Carey, a researcher at the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS), and Guillaume Filion, a researcher at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), discovered a number of scientific articles that were, to use their description, "disturbingly similar" while performing a literature search on the most common topics in biomedical research. They worked with 1,980,000 abstracts of articles in the PubMed database published since 2012.

When looking at the results of their search, Carey and Filion realized that one of the most repeated keywords was "CISCOM", the medical literature database of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine, which has available since 1995. It used to be mentioned in two or three articles a year and surprisingly, the number of times that it was cited began to increase significantly in February 2014.

Carey and Filion concluded that the same author probably wrote all the CISCOM metanalyses. By investigating further, the researchers found that there are companies in China that produce this type of study professionally. The authors state that "this research could be just the tip of the iceberg" and although they do not want to discredit the scientific work of Chinese colleagues, it calls into question their good scientific practice. They added that those responsible for this malpractice are "both the authors and publishers who publish them".

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